Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More


Miles And Miles And Miles

Sol, Madrid, Spain

October 7, 2010



This essay, Miles And Miles And Miles, is the first in a group of four written in Madrid, October 2010:
  1. Miles And Miles And Miles
  2. Through Spanish Ears
  3. River Of People
  4. Tengo Un Regalo Para Ti
in that order.

I am indebted to my daughter Alexandra Lindsey Platt who inspired this conversation.




My legs are beyond exhausted. When they were merely  exhausted, that was the easy time. They feel like they dropped clean off  a few miles back. A few miles back they quietly warned me they would die  if I didn't stop walking immediately. Now, miles and miles and miles further on, having ignored all warning signs and alarms, they're pleading with me, they're screaming  for me to stop, to slow down, to rest. We've been walking for miles and miles and miles, my daughter and I, through the streets of Madrid, up hills, down hills, through paved squares and cobblestone alleyways, in and out of the turnstiles, tunnels, and escalators of too many metro  stations to tell where one ends and the next one starts, past relics of history, through modern art galleries and ancient palaces, by street vendors and elegant stores, on and on and on for miles and miles and miles with no end in sight. My feet are burning hot  inside my shoes, the lower half of my body a leaden mass somehow impossibly co‑operating and moving forward, dragging along even though its gas needle went way south of empty  many hours back.

We sit down on a bench to view a photographic exhibition (which isn't what you'd normally expect to see in a botanical garden - but then again, this is  Europe), and I turn to her, my shirt sticking to my back, sweat beginning to sting my eyes, and I ask her with wide eyed anticipation "OK, where to next Girly?".

Don't get me wrong. I'm not in bad shape. I'm in great shape. I'm fit. But I haven't trained for this. I can run five miles in forty minutes. Immediately afterwards I can swim a mile in half an hour. But I haven't trained specifically for this. And this  - walking miles and miles and miles through the streets of Madrid - is her  milieu. I'm the visitor. I'm fit for the life I usually lead. But here I'm on foreign turf. I'm in her  neck of the woods here. Really. The muscles called on now aren't usually called on. Their tendency is to want to stop, to lie down, to take a shower. But there's no time for that. This is our time together, hers and mine. It's now or never. A brief rest, less than a minute of respite, before I stand up again and somehow get walking again. Because in another week there won't be this opportunity, there's an unswerving intention to be with her, to experience with her, to explore her new world with her, while my legs - no, my entire body  - is screaming "Stop! Please  stop! No more!". But when I look over at her, it's I and not their debilitating ache who gets the vote. I get to call it, so I say "OK, where to next Girly?".

This isn't a travelogue. I'm not writing one and nor will I, although given what we've seen, I could. Believe me: it would include just about everything there is to see and do here. But this conversation isn't about that. This conversation is a celebration of relationship. It's even more than that actually. It's a new beginning of a relationship with Life itself. This is when the daughter shows the father around her  new world. In this new world, the daughter is the mother to the father (as William Shakespeare may have said). In this new world, the father is the ward and the daughter the custodian. And although it seems it's suddenly all backwards, I realize she and I have completed the first twenty years of our relationship together, and this is the setting, this is the turf, this is the scene  in which the next twenty begin.

And in this scene I'm literally dragging  my body along with me to be with her. I dare  not stop - if I did, it wouldn't want to start again at least for a few hours or more. I'm not going to have this be about my body complaining so I don't give voice to what it wants to say. Instead, I say to her "OK, where to next Girly?".

There's no shortage of things to see here. It's sobering and awakening when I realize we're walking through one of the oldest cradles  of civilization on Earth. Yet where I come from, I proudly show visitors places that date all the way back to 1880  ... which we naïvely call "old". Wow! I first saw the world - I mean I really  first saw  the world - before I discovered and came to live in the wine country  in the amazing Cowboy Cottage. By the time I got here, I had traveled miles and miles and miles, millions  of miles in fact, gained residency in five countries and citizenship in two with stays in the Fiji Islands and the Amazon jungle inter alia. She was born here in this wine country. She lived here for almost the first twenty years of her life. It's natural she would want to experience a big  city now for a change. And Madrid is one of the great cities of the world. The chalk has come full circle: from miles and miles and miles around the world to the wine country, and now from the wine country, miles and miles and miles to this great cradle of civilization, Madrid.

Now I'm sitting here on this park bench reflecting on these vast distances both of us have traveled, reflecting on the vast distances she will yet travel, my feet and legs and lungs and entire body begging  me to stay exactly put and not take one more step, now beyond totally spent, having walked miles and miles and miles endlessly in this city for days, and I turn to her and I say "OK, where to next Girly?".



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